The plan was to do the least amount of cooking on New Year’s Eve so that everyone could just relax. We managed it — me probably doing the least work than anyone else. That felt strange — good-strange because I don’t remember that happening before. It felt so good I was thinking that I could get used to it.
Preparations began two days earlier. After picking up my newly-renewed passport, we spent the rest of Tuesday afternoon and early evening buying supplies. I bought two new loaf pans so that Speedy can bake larger loaves. I finally got kitchen twine too. Then, we drove to Santi’s for cold meat to build the perfect charcuterie on New Year’s Eve.
The following day, Speedy woke up at dawn to buy fruits. I wasn’t able to go with him having spent the previous night meeting all my deadlines.
The bread-baking went well. Speedy baked two large onion and cheese loaves. It was torture waiting for the bread to come out of the oven. The smell of the onion and the sharp cheddar permeated the kitchen while the dough was rising, I kept asking if the bread was ready yet but got told repeatedly that they were not because the dough had to be proofed three times. Yes, THREE times. Patience has never been one of my virtues so the waiting was really killing me.
The bread came out of the oven about half an hour before midnight. While the loaves cooled on a rack, Speedy prepared the meat and cheese platter.
I must say he did a truly marvelous job.
My contribution to the meal consisted of two simple seafood dishes. The first was seared scallops and the second was bruschetta with smoked salmon and prawns (I just cooked the prawns; Alex assembled the bruschetta).
Seared scallops with lemon-butter sauce
- 12 large scallops
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- garlic minced, toasted
- parsley chopped
- Rinse the scallops and pat dry.
- Lay the scallops on a flat surface. Using an ultra sharp knife, make a cross cut about a quarter of an inch deep on one flat side of the each scallop. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Melt the butter on a very hot pan. Cook the scallops, in a single layer, over very high heat about half a minute per side.
- Immediately transfer the scallops to a plate. Pour the pan juices over them.
- Drizzle lemon juice over the hot scallops. Sprinkle toasted minced garlic and chopped parsley on top.
Bruschetta with smoked salmon, cream cheese and prawns
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Cut the baguette into half-inch slices. Cut the garlic clove crosswise. Rub the cut side of the garlic on the baguette slices.
- Arrange the baguette slices on a baking tray. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over them.
- Toast in the oven at 400F for about 10 minutes.
- While the bread slices toast, cook the prawns.
- Melt the butter in a very hot pan. Add the prawns. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing often, just until the prawns change color.
- Take the toasted baguette slices out of the oven. Spread about a teaspoonful of smoked salmon and cream cheese on one side then top with a prawn. Repeat with the rest. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.